Newly-merged telecoms giant Virgin Media O2 has officially launched its National Databank, in partnership with Good Things Foundation.
It’ll be the UK’s first ‘food bank for data’, where those struggling financially will receive data boosts to their mobile plan. This will help them stay connected to friends, family and job opportunities.
O2 separately announced that it’ll be donating 10GB of mobile data to the Databank every time an O2 product or contract is bought between 1 November 2021 and 31 January 2022. These donations will go to people identified as digitally excluded across all UK mobile networks, not just O2.
For hundreds of thousands of British citizens, mobile data is an expense that they can’t always afford. When the choice on what to spend money on is between mobile data and food for the household, many people can lose access to the great resources the internet provides. This is known as data poverty.
The mission of the National Databank will be to lift people out of data poverty and provide them with equal access to the opportunities and connections the internet can offer. And following a successful three-month pilot, it now aims to reach over 250,000 individuals across the country by the end of 2023. And it’s expecting to donate over 22 million gigabytes of data in the process.
While Virgin Media O2 is a founding member of the initiative, and has donated £500,000 towards its operational costs, it will mainly be run by Good Things Foundation. This is a digital inclusion charity that’s dedicated to making digital technology more accessible for everyone.
The charity is connected with over 5,000 community groups across the UK, who will be able to take data from the bank either in voucher codes or data SIM cards. They can then distribute them to people in their region.
As well as donations of mobile data, Good Things Foundation and its network will be providing training and support for those who haven’t used the internet before. Its community groups will help people in their local area build their digital skills and make the most of their time online. This will enable them to access what they need and connect to loved ones without any issues.
Group Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation, Helen Milner OBE, commented: “Having sufficient data in our increasingly digital society is not a nice to have, it’s an absolute essential. With Christmas coming up and many set to spend the festive period alone, being connected to loved ones and to spend less on bills could make the world of difference and provide company to many for whom Christmas may be a lonely season.
“The National Databank – which can be thought of as a ‘food bank for data’ – is already doing great work to bridge the digital divide. We’re very proud to be rolling out nationwide and we’re delighted that Virgin Media O2 is upping its data pledge this Christmas. Together, we can come together to help address the issue of data poverty in the UK once and for all.”
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